Subject-verb agreement is an essential grammar concept in the English language. It refers to the agreement between the subject and the verb of a sentence, meaning that the verb must agree with the subject in number and person. This means that if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example, ‘She walks to the park’ is correct because ‘she’ is singular and ‘walks’ agrees with it. However, ‘She walk to the park’ is incorrect because ‘walk’ is plural and doesn’t agree with the singular subject ‘she’.
You’ve probably noticed that subject-verb agreement can be tricky, and even native speakers can make errors. In this article, we’ll look at some common mistakes and examples that should help you to understand the concept of subject-verb agreement and avoid making errors in your writing.
One of the most common mistakes in subject-verb agreement is when the subject is separated from the verb by a long phrase or clause. This can make it difficult to match the verb with the subject correctly. For example, ‘The book, along with the pen and the pencil, is on the table’ is correct because the subject is singular (‘the book’) and ‘is’ agrees with it. On the other hand, ‘The book, along with the pen and the pencil, are on the table’ is incorrect because ‘are’ is plural and doesn’t agree with the singular subject ‘the book’.
Another common mistake is when the subject is a collective noun, such as ‘team’ or ‘family’. In this case, the verb should agree with the noun in terms of whether it is singular or plural. For example, ‘The team is playing well’ is correct because ‘team’ is singular, even though there are multiple players on that team. However, ‘The team are playing well’ is incorrect because ‘are’ is plural and doesn’t agree with the singular collective noun ‘team’. ‘Are’ would only be correct if you were talking about two or more teams, because then the collective noun would be plural too: ‘The teams are playing well’.
Here’s a handy list you can use as a reference guide. We’ll look at 10 short examples of common subjects and verbs that are a bit tricky and often lead to agreement errors.
It’s a difficult topic, so let’s take a look at some more detailed and specific examples of subject-verb agreement errors and how to correct them:
Subject-verb agreement is important because it helps to ensure that sentences are grammatically correct and easy to understand. When subject-verb agreement is incorrect, sentences can be confusing or even nonsensical. For non-native speakers, subject-verb agreement can be particularly challenging, so it’s essential to practice and understand the rules.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a fundamental grammar concept in the English language. By understanding the rules and avoiding common mistakes, you can improve your writing and communication skills. With practice and attention to detail, you can master subject-verb agreement and avoid errors that can detract from the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.